by Sarah A. Peterson-Camacho
Becoming a band in the middle of a pandemic might seem like a long shot to some, but to the members of Fresno band LaVida, it’s been more of a sure shot instead. Weaving together a variety of musical styles and beats, vocalist/bassist Jared Cato, guitarist Christian Viscarra, and drummer Miguel Padilla have crafted a genre of their very own.
KRL: How long have you all been performing? How did each of you get your start?
Jared Cato: I’ve been performing on and off for twelve years; I got my start in Clovis High’s Marimba band, but have largely played live the last five years, on and off, with the band members I play with now.
Christian Viscarra: I’ve performed with the same group of guys, on and off, for the past 4-5 years. We got our start by looking for people with the same musical interest, but wanting to play different genres of music.
Miguel Padilla: I’d performed with a previous band called The Media; our singer at the time was looking for bandmates to play in Fresno at a small event. We only had one day before the gig to learn the songs.
KRL: When was LaVida founded, and how long have you been with the band?
Miguel: As LaVida, we became a band at the beginning of this year, in February.
KRL: What is each of your musical specialties (instruments, vocals)?
JC: I play bass and vocals—my musical specialty is actually percussion. Although I happen to know how to sing very well, it isn’t my forte onstage, and only recently have I begun to sing live in front on a crowd.
CV: I play guitar.
MP: My musical speciality would definitely be the drums; I like to play guitar and piano, and I sing a little bit, though not a great singer…I’m also an audio engineer.
KRL: What music genres does LaVida specialize in?
CV: LaVida is a fusion of different genres like rock, funk, and with a heavy Latin influence.
JC: Personally, I would classify LaVida as pop/funk rock, with Latin inspirations, as well as Latin pop, in some cases.
MP: In the band, we really try to be diverse in different genres; we like to experiment with rock and funk, or alternative with funk; we are really open to trying different styles.
KRL: Whose music has influenced the band the most?
MP: We like to listen to Santana, War, and other funk bands, and make something of ours that sounds very unique.
CV: My personal influence is Carlos Santana.
KRL: Did each of you always want to be a musician?
JC: I have always wanted to be a musician, but haven’t really believed in the ability to be able to make a living as one. If I can sort my bills and household welfare as a musician, my goals, as a musician, would be halfway complete.
CV: I didn’t have a passion for music until I started playing the guitar in high school.
MP: I had always wanted to be a musician when I was younger—I’d really wanted to play guitar, but instead I taught myself how to play the drums by listening to music and drumming along with the songs; I kept practicing until learned to play more complicated music.
KRL: Who did each of you listen to while growing up? Whose music has inspired you the most?
CV: Growing up, I listened to a lot of hip hop; Lil Wayne, Drake, and Weezer were always dope to me. But, it wasn’t until high school that I started to listen to artists like Jimi Hendrix, RHCP, and Sublime.
MP: The bands I listened to growing up were Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mike Stern, The Dave Matthews Band, and Alice in Chains…The Dave Matthews Band has been a really big inspiration; I love how they can be really diverse.
JC: Growing up, I listened to a lot of hard rock and metal. As an adult, I would grow to lean on jazz and Latin music, heavily Brazillian, and African world music as my inspiration, as well as hard blues/funk/rock, as you can hear in some tracks.
KRL: Where has LaVida performed locally?
JC: We’ve performed under a few different names over the years, and that has led to almost the entire Central Valley, but under LaVida, we’ve played from Fresno to Tulare, with our biggest gig being over a thousand people in Reedley.
CV: LaVida has performed at Barmageddon in Tulare, and at the Wakehouse, during a Valley Fight Series event.
KRL: How has the pandemic affected LaVida? What challenges has the band faced?
MP: The pandemic hasn’t affected the band a whole lot; we have spent most of the time recording new songs. The challenge we face is playing live because not too many places are able to have an event, or have bands play.
JC: So far, the ensuing pandemic hasn’t affected LaVida much because we were not active beforehand. We have recently gotten back together, and the call for live shows is very great now—in large difference to what we thought was possible at the time of planning, considering the second mutation/wave of the virus.
KRL: What projects/performances are you each most proud of?
JC: So far, personally, my most exciting project is the song “Give it to You” (however, “Start Living” is our greatest band effort). “Give It to You” was written by myself, with the guitar part mostly written entirely by Christian. The song was made without a guitar part, so the song as a whole was made possible by the band at large. At the same time, “Start Living” was an older project that was heavily rearranged by the entire band, remade to what it is you hear by LaVida.
CV: “Start Living” is my favorite project that we worked on.
MP: “Give It to You” is the project I’m most proud of because it’s a song that is sweet and simple…when we performed it, people really liked the song, and we just hammered that show…
KRL: What is the best thing about making and performing music?
CV: Being able to show who I am through my music is the best thing about making and performing music.
MP: The best thing about making and performing music is having fun: to feel the music and to be inspired.
JC: As a person of passion and a musician, the best thing about making and performing music is MAKING, and then PERFORMING music. To be able to share your passion with the world as we know it, and the chance of one’s music being able to reach the far sides of the globe, and enjoyed by such—it’s a feeling that cannot be put into words.